Carpi's meteoric rise provides Italian football with much-needed feelgood factor.
In the same week that Bournemouth secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time, along comes an even more unlikely story which comfortably eclipses that achievement.
Carpi, who were playing fifth division football only five seasons ago, have won promotion to Serie A for the first time.
While Bournmouth’s Goldsands Stadium boasts a capacity of just 12,000 capacity, Carpi’s Sandro Cabassi stadium holds a mere 4,144 people. Nevertheless, the tiny club from the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy, made sure of their place to Italy’s top flight courtesy of a 0-0 draw with Bari. With four matches to play they sit 12 points clear of third-placed Bologna, with a better head-to-head record.
The club are based in the town of the same name, with a population of only 67,000. Carpi were originally founded in 1909, though they were declared bankrupt in 1999 and re-established the following year.
They’ve never been in the top flight before and 2013-14 was their first foray into Serie B.
Their rise began in the 2009-10 season, when they were promoted from Serie D. They also won promotion in two of the next three seasons and fisnished 12th in their first season in Serie B in 2013-14.
“It’s been an extraordinary journey and I’m delighted with this promotion,” said their coach Fabrizio Castori.
“This team has improved step by step and these lads have a great future.”
There are questions over where Carpi will play next season, however, as Serie A rules require grounds to have a minimum capacity of 20,000.
The failytale story of their rapid ascent has not gone down well with everyone in Italy. In February, the Lazio president Claudio Lotito raised eyebrows after a telephone conversation was leaked in which he discussed the prospect of Carpi’s promotion.
“If Carpi come up…if teams come up who are not worth a cent, in two or three years we won’t have a penny,” he said. “I’ve done well in selling the TV rights, we brought in €1.2 billion thanks to my skill. I managed to find an agreement between Sky and Mediaset, which in 10 years no one had been able to do.
“If in three years we have Latina, Frosinone, who would buy those rights? They don’t even know where Frosinone is.”
Carpi sporting director Christian Giuntoli, though, insisted the club fully deserved its place among Italy’s elite.
“[Our rise] is not born by chance, it is the realisation of a project that has grown and grown,” Giuntoli told Goal.
“The club is solid and does not splurge or act without foresight. Above all, the chain of command is very short, and this facilitates the decision-making process of the club. I am referring directly to president Claudio Caliumi who is represented by Roberto Marani and Stefano Bonacini. I talk to them, then I talk to the coach. That’s it.”
Here were the ecstatic scenes at the Sandro Cabassi stadium when promotion was confirmed.